Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?
At BFS, your child’s welfare is our first concern. If your daughter or son is developmentally ready for the challenge of Kindergarten at Buckingham Friends School, the experience will be positive, enriching, and happy, as well as establish a strong foundation for a life-long love of learning.
What do we mean by “developmentally ready”? A child’s developmental age will reflect social, emotional, physical, and intellectual abilities that are consistent with the typical behaviors and characteristics of children who have successfully engaged in Kindergarten activities, regardless of their exact birthdate and age.
Children develop at different rates and in different ways. One may express ideas thoughtfully, but still be clumsy while running or walking. Another may have excellent fine motor skills to hold a pencil with strength and dexterity, yet social and emotional skills are still emerging.
When you apply for your child to attend BFS Kindergarten we invite him or her for a play date. During this time we observe social interactions among the children, and provide simple exercises that help us assess your child’s readiness to meet the challenge of learning, playing, and attending a full-day Kindergarten. Our purpose is not to exclude children, but to be prepared to address his or her needs within the broad parameters of skills that come into the classroom. Even children of the same exact age can differ greatly in their readiness, as much as they can differ in size and shape.
To understand your child’s readiness, we pay particular attention to whether she is able to follow routines, adhere to guidelines, listen to and follow directions, wait one’s turn, and cope with the complexities of the classroom and the demands of the scheduled day, while learning at the same time.
As you consider your child’s readiness for Kindergarten, think about whether he or she is able to:
- Comfortably separate from you when you drop him or her off?
- Express ideas and feelings to adults other than immediate family?
- Accept minor disappointments or limits without tears?
- Listen to and follow directions?
- Take turns and/or wait his or her turn patiently?
- Work independently without constant adult supervision?
- Make simple decisions given a few choices of play activities?
- Take care of personal belongings and toileting needs independently?
- Retell familiar stories, nursery rhymes, or songs?
This list is not exhaustive, but intended to help you consider your child’s abilities and whether he or she seems ready. Children who are unable to accomplish most of these tasks without tears, clinging, or negotiation by the time they enter the classroom might not yet be developmentally ready for the demands of Kindergarten. We realize that we are considering children who are still months away from coming to school, and their development will reflect the fact that many skills are still emerging. We take this into consideration, as should you, when looking for abilities in a child who will continue to grow and develop by leaps and bounds over the course of the coming months.
When a child needs more time to develop, it’s valuable to consider the benefits of waiting another year. Entering the challenging environment of the classroom can be stressful for children not quite capable of handling these complex demands, and can result in physical complaints such as headaches and stomachaches, social concerns such as withdrawal, or overly aggressive behavior such as hitting or biting in response to the feeling of being overwhelmed or threatened by the greater capabilities of other children.
Parents often ask, “What can I do to help prepare my child?” After many years of research and extensive study, experts say that the answer has been found in one activity alone! Reading to your child. By reading to your child from a young age and engaging her or him to name unfamiliar objects, identify similar or dissimilar items, learn new vocabulary, and converse about what is happening in the story, you help them to develop. Ask questions that explore their thoughts about the characters or the plot, help them to consider each character’s feelings, and pose “What If” scenarios to help your child develop in ways that expand their innate reasoning powers and natural curiosity. Encourage empathy and emotional connections, and cultivate an understanding of social context as well as acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
We will work with you to understand your child’s readiness and discuss particular areas, if necessary. As noted in the start of this section, your child’s welfare is our first concern, and we want to insure that his or her Kindergarten experience at Buckingham Friends School will be enriching, happy, and result in a life-long love of learning.
References: Ready or Not: Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten? the Gesell Institute of Child Develoment, New Haven, Connecticut, 2006; and ERB Testing: What the heck is the ERB and what do moms need to know? Michele LoBosco, mommybites.com/newyork, 2011.